Tag Archives: Marriage

Irreconcilable differences and the woman in my marriage

I didn’t get to feel anything about Nigeria’s independence. Today, however, I did make a startling discovery; my marriage is not what it seems to be.

They say you learn more about a person the more you’re married to them; but what about if the stuff you learn makes you question your decision to marry them in the first place?

I have just found out my husband likes Nigella Lawson.

Seriously.

No, I am not joking.

I mean, it’s my faulty really, I should have noticed. He talks about her from time to time while I grunt and try not to up-chuck whatever I might have ingested. I never paid attention and now I had to be subjected to an episode of her ‘I-know-Italy’ series, ‘Nigellissima’, while eating my salad. Look at all that butter! All that chocolate! All that pouting. All that hair tossing! Cleavage! Innuendo!  Somebody shoot me.

I asked him – nicely – if he didn’t mind putting something else. But while my back was turned, he changed it again, like I wouldn’t recognise that syrupy panting after the time I mistakenly watched an episode, the one where she made Creme de Menthe chocolate cake/pie with a side of simpering. I admired said cake/pie – begrudgingly – because it looked delicious, but mostly because it looked the right consistency to throw right in her face; nice and gooey. Maximum damage cake/pie, in every way.

Two seconds after switching the second time, he said ”I see now why you think she’s annoying. It’s like she’s acting” (DUH!), but it was too late. The damage has been done and now I want a lawyer.

I reckon this is as irreconcilable as differences get.

I won’t talk about my admiration for her butter-eating, chocolate-laden proclivities. It’s how she gets you. Pretty soon that sentence becomes: I like that Nigella eats butter.

Besides, I’ve got Lorraine Pascale for that now.

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The Hero Series: ‘What makes you know you’re Igbo’ and other matters.

Number of times searched – 1

Listen my dear, I do not understand this question.

When you’re Igbo you just know. In fact the first rule of knowing that you’re Igbo is to wonder if you are. Our culture does not favour everyone and if you’re feeling the pinch of it in a particular area of your life, the fact that you cannot escape is probably causing you to fantasise that maybe…just maybe…you might not be Igbo? Ha! Tough luck! You are.

If I am not an eight-year-old lying asleep on my mother’s couch, waiting for my Uncle Israel to pick me up for a two-week holiday at his house (Long story. More on this later) then you don’t get to have an alternate reality either. This is your life. Suck it up.

If you are adopted or something and are simply wondering if you could be Igbo, I think I can help. And don’t worry, if the majority of these symptoms have not manifested, they will. In time. As with all medical advice, having one or more means you are definitely Igbotically inclined.

FEMALES

  • You have to resist the urge to blind, maim or even eviscerate your suitors: This means you like them. In fact, the more you like them, the more likely they are to end up dead. It will be sad if they die, yes, but your honour and Maidenhead will be intact.

****Of course we cannot disregard cases of rape and ‘forceful loving’ from centuries of cultural ‘Stop-it-I-like-its’. In those days however, there was a code of which both males and females, young and old were aware. There were signs that women gave if they were genuinely interested and merely testing your mettle to see if you would be a strong husband –  if you genuinely wanted her  as opposed to just anyone in her peer group. I would like to say there was no rape but it is likely that the consequences were more severe. Unlike today, rape could be punishable by death. But – and I say this as someone who has been on the receiving end of many a persistent bugger convinced he is being tested – there is a need for the language of courtship to change. If women are still reading from the scroll of courtship and men aren’t, there is a problem. 

  • You are relentless in your pursuit of degrees/independence: You mustn’t blame yourself if you are still stuck on your 10th postgraduate programme long after your mates have finished theirs. It’s a genetic condition. Do you know the science of evolution? Well, you are programmed to behave like that because in the not-too-distant past, your ancestresses married one man and had to look after themselves and their children with whatever they sold, sowed or bartered. The only thing they got from the men apart from social standing  (and if your man was an akologheli like my Awka brethren would say, not even that) were yams and seed yams. You get where I’m going with this. Still…
  • Marriage matters to you. Deeply. And so…
  • In spite of your independence, you don’t want to appear too independent/smart. I know, I know. It’s annoying isn’t it? You have all the answers and you’re forced to hold your tongue while the men lumber around making all the mistakes and generally wrecking everything. You know how to hold a car distributor together with the under-wire of your bra and you have to watch your man fiddling with stuff under the bonnet and muttering “I think it’s the manifold.” And this, after refusing to call the mechanic twiddling his thumbs across the road. Stuff like that.
  • You find yourself: Sitting down to cook (who was the imbecile that came up with standing up to cook anyway?), saving the best pieces of meat/fish for whatever man is closest during meal times, even if they are strangers. And if no man is available? Well, no wonder your freezer is full. Get  a man ASAP. In fact, even a male dog has a penis and is more deserving than you are. Get one.
  • You may have an innate hierarchical system: Men first, then male children, women and girls. The Marrieds over singles. This will determine how you treat them all the time. Contrary to the UN’s idiotic beliefs, all fingers are not created equal. You may also hate yourself for this, seeing as you’re educated and all. Don’t be silly. The minute you surrender to your Igboness, this internal conflict will be resolved. You’ll accept your place. Which is…
  • A little above a child’s: Your man, whether temporary or permanent, has the right to discipline you as he sees fit. 50 Shades of Grey is your template. You can’t understand these people who hate it so much.

It might sound like your existence is dire; you have all of the responsibilities but none of the benefits but that isn’t always true. I’d say it’s split 80/20 but that is true in the rest of the world. The difference is that we’re Igbo. We are more honest about things than everyone else is.  Keep your head down and do your duty. That is your reward for living.

But if you feel a bit blue, consider this: Amadioha is so merciful that he has given us a silver lining. Most of the men your age will probably be dead twice over before you even dream about popping your clogs.

May be the odds be ever in your favour!

Love,

Hx

Mama mama, nne, nne: Part 3

“Tell my mother what?” Chidi asked. He was still looking at me, daring me to speak something into existence.

“That you’re … gay?” I took a step back.

“I am not gay.” The tension went out of his shoulders. As they dropped, the corners of his mouth lifted. “I am like you, really.”

“You are…like me?” I took another step back.

“Yes. I am a woman.”

“Oh-kaay. Listen, I was just trying to help your mother, you know in case she was an angel or an ancestor or something…” I trailed off. “The point is I’m going now. Good luck.”

“Wait!”

“No.”

“Seriously, wait!” His hands encircled my wrists. Chidi dropped them as if they burned. “Wait,” he said again.

“Why?”

“I can’t explain it, but it’s just….there is something about you…you’re right, I need to tell her. Just stay. I feel like I can do it with you around.”

“Are you joking? We only just met. In fact, we haven’t really met…this is ridiculous.”

“Lower your voice, she will hear you. Just stay for drinks. A glass of juice? You can’t just leave like that.”

“Watch me.”

“You’ll hurt my mother’s feelings.”

“I don’t care.”

“Yes, you do.”

“No, I don’t. You don’t know me. Oh my God, what am I doing here?”

“You have to stay. You have to help me. All my life I have been wanting to tell her. Now you show up and everything  just seems right. I have to tell her now, don’t you see? And you have to help me,” he repeated.

“This is madness. I don’t know you!”

“I could be an angel or an ancestor. You don’t know.”

“It doesn’t work like that. You have to be old…”

“An ancestor trapped in the wrong body.” Chidi smiled, doing the light-in-eye thing.  His joviality clashed with the gravity of the situation. I studied his face. The brightness in his eye seemed somehow forced, his eyebrows raised slightly too high.

“How long have you known?” I asked, cursing my curiosity. Chidi took a deep breath.

“Since I was three, maybe before that. I used to be quite fond of my mother’s things; her perfumes, hats, shoes….I loved her dresses and her lipstick. Once she caught me stuffing her bra with toilet roll. She thought it was funny so she took a photo on her Polaroid.” Chidi’s lowered his voice. “I still have that photo. I found it when I turned 18. I looked so happy. I haven’t been that happy in a long time.” He sat down on the last step. “Of course, when you’re three, it’s cute. She let me try on a few more things when I wanted…well, technically she didn’t let me but she didn’t stop me either. When I was eight, my father walked in on me trying on one of my mother’s wigs with some clip-on earrings. I still have scars on my back.” He rubbed his eyes with the heels of his palms. “She just stood there and let him do it. After that, she started locking her door for a while.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” He shrugged.

“I just never felt like I belonged, in here.” He touched his heart. “Or in here.” He touched his head. “Even in my dreams, I was female.” His voice shook. “You should see me in my dreams. I look spectacular.”

“I’ll bet you do.” Chidi beamed at me. His
complexion was doing the hypnotic thing again, making me dizzy. “How are you doing that?”

“Doing what?”

“Nothing. Listen, the good news is, you don’t need me at all. Your mother already knows that you’re a…ah…”

“A woman.”

“Right. I wasn’t sure whether to say ‘transgender’ because doesn’t that mean something different to ‘cross dresser?’ Anyway, she knows. You are just dancing around each other waiting for who’ll say it first. Com’on. Look at you. Is there another reason you’re not married?”

“Yeah, I’m pretty perfect, aren’t I? I’m such a catch.”

“Stop beating yourself up. You’re probably right to want to tell her, that’s the only way you can start living the life you want. But…can I leave first before you do? I really shouldn’t be advising you either. It’s not my life. I walk out the door and you never have to see me again, but your mother is your mother. You’re linked forever. You’ll need to handle it delicately.” A sigh whooshed out of me. “I’ll shut up now. And I really must go.”

“Where are you going?” The woman eyed me. “The corn is almost ready. I peeled off the husk and put it in some water in the microwave. This country, eh?” She looked at Chidi. “How can you keep someone standing like this eh? Take her coat now. My daughter, oche dikwa. We have seats.”

“Eh, Mama, you know that I can’t stay. I have to get home to…I have a date with my friend.”

“He can join us, the more the merrier. Call him. Let me see this person who my Chi-boy does not measure up to.” The woman started tugging at my coat-sleeves.

“Mama, I’m sorry but you’re being a bit…I hate to be rude but…”

“LEAVE HER ALONE!”

Chidi stood to his full height. The woman froze. In the silence that followed I could hear my heart making its painful way back down from my throat. ‘No,’ I thought. ‘Please God, no.’

“Is something wrong with you? How can you raise your voice to me?” The woman’s hands were still on my sleeves. She started tugging again. “I am trying to do what’s best for you. I will not be the only woman in my age group not to have grandchildren because her only child is picky…”

Chidi wasn’t finished. “Leave her alone, Mama. And leave me alone too. I am tired of all these girls you keep shoving in my face. A WOMAN DOES NOT MARRY A WOMAN WHERE WE COME FROM! Let me be who I was born to be!” Just like that, he stopped. He dropped down on the step again. I imagined I could hear a ‘Pffffft’ sound as air went out of him. It was as if he was folding in on himself.

As Chidi spoke, the woman fell against the wall as if she had been struck. Now I could see her swelling, filling up as her son seemed to be deflating. She opened her mouth.

“WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!! Chim o!!!! Chidi alaputa m o!!!! Alu emee m o!!!! Ndi ilo m!” She jumped up and let herself fall to the ground. I could not get my feet to move. The woman stood up again, jumped as high as she could and bashed herself upon the floor again. Chidi reached her at the same time I did. She punched him in the stomach and spat on his head. “Ewoooooooo!!!!!

I couldn’t identify which fluid shone the most on her face; spit, snot or tears. They all mingled in one soupy mess, gluing her eyelashes, running into her mouth.

“So you are still talking this rubbish? You are talking like a drowning man, oooooo Chidi nwa m anwu oooooo!” She started singing a song of mourning: ‘My child is dead, lost, gone forever.’

“Mama, I am not dead.” Chidi looked as if he would throw up. The woman continued screaming. “Mama, please keep your voice down, we can discuss it.” She lobbed spittle in his direction.

“Oh, Papa Chidi why did you leave me? Now they have taken the food prepared for me and they have eaten it. What will I tell our people?”

“Mama, I am still here. I am still your child. I am just not your son.”

The woman got up, untying and tying her wrapper. I looked away. There was a clattering of crockery in the kitchen and she came out again. She had a meat cleaver in her hand.

“Since you say you don’t want to be a man, let me cut it off. Aga m ebe gi amu kitaa! Give it to me. I will bury it at home and mourn my son.”

“Mama! What are you doing…!”

In a leap, I was outside the door and running down the street. I slowed to a jog when I hit the side street, surprised to have come to the bus stop quickly. I put my hands on my knees, my guts threatening to spill from my nose. I felt a disturbance on my thigh and reached inside my pocket.

“Hello? Nwunye? You were supposed to be here ages ago. Where are you?” I said the name of the street. “Another bus should be along right about now. If you get on it I’ll see you in 7 minutes.”

I craned my neck. “It is.” The red smear was getting larger and larger, taking the shape of a bus as it approached. “But you know, I think I’ll walk. I’ve had enough of buses for one day.”

The Hero Series: ‘My Igbo husband wants to marry an Igbo girl’

Dear Igbophilia readers,

Ndewo nu ndi oma m,

Kedu ka unu mere? I’m so glad that many of you have been waiting patiently for a new post since Easter. Thanks for all your messages and comments.

I’ve been up to my neck in deadlines but the the nearest one will be done soon and I will be back with more articles and stories for you to read.

In the meantime, here’s a dilemma for you to solve. This search term landed on my dashboard a few weeks ago and I was going to address it, but I thought, ‘Why not hear what other people have to say?’

Please take the time to read respond to this because someone’s life could depend on it.

What would you do if you were non-Igbo married to an Igbo man who wanted to marry someone else?

(I know hundreds of you read posts daily. The figures don’t lie. I’m asking you to please type a few words. Don’t do a browse-by. Pass it on.)